Most college students are ineligible for Covid-19 stimulus check

On Monday, April 26, 80 million stimulus checks were mailed to qualifying Americans.

A first round of checks already went out through direct deposit earlier in the month.

In late March, President Trump signed a $2 trillion Covid-19 stimulus package following the House of Representatives passing a massive bill in efforts to financially assist Americans affected by quarantine.

In early April, the IRS began sending stimulus checks of $1,200 to those who qualify. A major group of people who most likely will not be receiving a check are college students.

College students are widely affected by the pandemic. All universities resorted to online learning and all campus housing is closed.

Many seniors in the class of 2020 have had job offers postponed or cancelled. On top of that, most will not receive a stimulus check.

Amanda Panfil, University of Mount Union senior worked as the Social Media Specialist for the International Soap Box Derby in Akron before she was laid off due to Covid-19.

Panfil, 22, says confusion with the stimulus check is leading her to believe she does not qualify for one.

“I haven’t gotten a check via direct deposit or the mail and the IRS database said my info couldn’t be found so I am taking that as I will not get one.”

Panfil is graduating from Mount Union in May and says not receiving a stimulus check will limit her financial options.

Autumn Kessler, 23, graduated from Muskingum University in December. She was in a final round of interviews for a position at a hospital that has since been put on the back burner to direct more funds and attention to combatting Covid-19.

But why aren’t students receiving a check?

The IRS says college students who are still claimed as a dependent on their parents taxes will not be eligible for a stimulus check.

Kessler, 23, says transitioning out of college and into the workforce during the pandemic is challenging because she is not receiving a stimulus check.

Kessler does not receive a stimulus check because she is still a dependent on her mom.

“I am in the process of applying to unemployment but given the fact that I worked on campus last year,” Kessler said, “and then never actually was employed with a company since I was being hired at the time. I’m not sure I will qualify.”

Nichole Santangelo, University of Akron student says she was laid off from one of her three jobs. She does not qualify for a stimulus check because she is still claimed as a dependent.

Santangelo, 21, says she is fortunate to be an essential worker but disappointed to be a college student during this time.

“I am working remotely for two of my jobs and I am a pharmacy technician so I am an essential worker,” Santangelo said.

“Many of my friends are in need of the stimulus check to help pay rent,” Santangelo said. “I know our landlord offered for us to defer payments until we are able to work again since two of my roommates are unemployed.”

Reinel, 22, says managing college and working full-time is easier because of the stimulus check he received.

Matt Reinel is a Cleveland State University student who also works full-time as a maintenance worker. He is receiving a check because he is claimed independent from his parents.

“I’ve been living on my own for two and a half years,” Reinel said. “I left my mom’s house when I was 19 and I’ve been on my own ever pretty much since.”

“I work a job that makes under $75,000 a year so I’m qualified for it,” Reinel said. “I’m not a dependent on anybody else.”

The IRS website indicates the qualifications that must be met to qualify as a dependent:

  1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
  2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
  3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.2
  4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
  5. The child must not be filing a joint return for the year (unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid).
Reinel, 22, discusses how fortunate he is to be one of few college students receiving a stimulus check.

Jessica Tuttle, University of Dayton student does not qualify for a check.

“This is tough for me because I’m no longer a dependent since being hired at UDRI and moving into my own apartment,” Tuttle said. “Luckily, I’m still employed, but it definitely is difficult not being able to qualify since my status recently changed.”

Tuttle, 21, recently transitioned off of her parents dependency but does not qualify for a stimulus check because the check considers 2019’s tax return.

According to the stimulus check requirements, parents receive $500 per child if their child is 16-years-old or younger. That means children between the ages of 17 and 24, claimed as a dependent on their parents, will not receive any money.

“I wish there was a way for the government to review cases like these to check for current qualification since many could have had drastic changes to financial situations and dependency since last year’s tax return,” Tuttle said.

Tax Foundation breaks down who qualifies for the stimulus check and how much they receive.

Even if a student in enrolled in a university, as long as they are a dependent on their parents, they do not receive any stimulus funding from the government.

“I have responsibility now more than ever,” Panfil said. “I am currently on the job market/actively interviewing but the job market itself has been a little shaky.”

“I’ve been lucky enough to be able to be still working with my job that I have,” Reinel said. “It’s better for me to be able to work during this time period and it’s unfortunate for others that aren’t able to work but it goes with what you do for a living.”

The IRS says there are exceptions for adopted children, children of divorced or separated parents, disabled children and kidnapped children.

Many Ohio universities including Ohio State, Kent State and Ohio University have offered Covid-19 relief grants to help students struggling financially.

“I’m needing to buy a car but I can’t afford it,” Kessler said. “I really wish there would have been an option for students who have been working for years and living independently up until this point.”

Within the next few weeks, more than 100 million stimulus checks will be sent to qualifying citizens.

Visit irs.gov for more information on qualifying for stimulus checks.